« PoprzedniaDalej »
To the Revd. Mr. HURDIS.
Weston, June 6, 1793.
MY DEAR SIR, .
I seize a passing moment merely to say that I feel for your distresses, and sincerely pity you, and I shall be happy to learn from your next, that your Sister's amendment has superseded the necessity you feared of a journey to London. Your candid account of the effect that your afflictions have both on your spirits and temper, I can perfectly understand, having laboured much in that fire myself, and perhaps more than any man. It is in such a school, however, that we must learn, if we ever truly learn it, the natural depravity of the human heart, and of our own in particular ; together with the consequence that necessarily follows such wretched premises; our indispensable need of the atonement, and our inexpressible obligations to him who made it. This reflection cannot escape a thinking mind, looking back on those ebullitions of fretfulness and impatience, to which it has yielded in a season of great affliction.
Having lately had company who left us only on the fourth, I have done nothing, nothing indeed, since my return from Sussex, except a trifle or two, which it was incumbent upon me to write. Milton hangs in doubt, neither spirits nor opportunity suffice me for that labour. I regret continually that I ever suffered myself to be persuaded to undertake it. The most that I hope to effect is a complete revisal of my own Homer. Johnson told my friend, who has just left me, that it will begin to be reviewed in the next Analytical, and he hoped the review of it would not offend me. By this I understand, that if I am not offended, it will be owing more to my own equanimity than to the mildness of the critic. So be it! He will put an opportunity of victory over myself into my hands, and I will endeavour not to lose it.
To WILLIAM HAYLEY, Esqr.
Weston, June 29, 1793.
Dear architect of fine CHATEAUX in air,
Worthier to stand for ever if they could,
Than any built of stone, or yet of wood,
Oh for permission from the skies to share,
Much to my own, though little to thy good,
With thee (not subject to the jealous mood !)
But I am bankrupt now; and doom'd hepceforth
To drudge in descant dry, on others lays ;
But what is commentator's happiest praise ?
That he has furnish'd lights for other eyes,
What remains for me to say on this subject, my dear brother bard, I will say in prose. There are other impediments which I could not comprize within the bounds of a sonnet,
My poor Mary's infirm condition makes it impossible for me, at present, to engage in a work such as you propose. My thoughts are not sufficiently free, por have I, or can I, by any means, find opportunity; added to it comes a difficulty which, though you are not at all aware of it, presents itself to me under a most forbidding appearance : Can you guess it? No, not you; neither perhaps will you be able to imagine that such a difficulty can possibly subsist. If your hair begins to bristle, stroke it down again, for there is no need why it should erect itself. It concerns me, not you. I know myself too well not to know that I am nobody in verse, unless in a corner, and alone, and unconnected in my operations. This is not owing to want of love for you, my Brother, or the most consummate confidence in you; for I have both in a degree that has not been exceeded in the experience of any friend you have, or ever had. But I am so made up---I will not enter into a metaphysical analysis of my strange composition, in order to detect the true cause of this evil; but on a general view of the matter, I suspect that it proceeds from that shyness which has been my effectual and almost fatal hindrance on many other important occasions, and which I should feel, I well know, on this, to a
degree that would perfectly cripple me. No! I shall neither do, nor attempt any thing of consequence more, unless my poor Mary get better; nor even then, unless it should please God to give me another nature, in concert with any man--I could not, even with my own father or brother, were they now alive. Small game must serve me at present, and till I have done with Homer and Milton, a sonnet, or some such matter, must content me. The utmost that I aspire to, and Heaven knows with how feeble a hope, is to write at some better opportunity, and when my hands are free, The four Ages. Thus I have opened my heart unto thee.
To WILLIAM HAYLEY, Esqr,
Weston, Jul 7, 1793.
MY DEAREST HAYLEY,
If the excessive heat of this day, which forbids me to do any thing else, will